The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation have appointed a beekeeper to support its mission to advance the education of ecology in state schools.

Yvonne Kilvington is gardener and activity support worker at a forest school in West Yorkshire and a passionate beekeeper with a lifelong love of bees. She will work with DJRFF to increase the number of schools involved in beekeeping, help promote the educational importance of bees, get children excited about nature and provide them with opportunities they might not get otherwise.

Family foundation appoints new beekeeper to education role
Yvonne Kilvington

The foundation is supporting the installation and running costs of beehives and bee colonies at UK state schools, starting in Sheffield.

Yvonne will deliver training courses for teachers and offer support to set up apiaries within the schools, she said:

“The apiaries will be a teaching resource to enrich the curriculum and help children learn about the living world around them. We can learn so much from bees. They can help children understand how important bees are to our own survival in respect of the pollination of crops and the food that we eat.

“Children who find a classroom environment challenging love being outdoors. Learning about bees can be a transformational experience for them.

“Schools can teach children about bees and beekeeping as part of the curriculum through subjects like ecology, biology, maths and English as well as through extra-curricular activities.

“Being around the bees encourages children to ask all sorts of questions about their lifecycle and environment. Why do bees build hexagons in their hives? What makes the hexagon such a strong shape that make the best use of space?”

Family foundation appoints new beekeeper to education role
Yvonne Kilvington

Yvonne set up the apiary at Ashbrow School six years ago. It currently holds seven hives with each hive containing around 10,000 bees in winter and up to 60,000 in the height of summer. Bees pollinate the fruit and vegetable gardens around the school. The crops are then harvested, sent to the school kitchen for cooking in meals and any waste is composted and returned to spread across the garden.

Forest schools follow the Scandinavian approach to early years education and give children opportunities to develop through positive outdoor experiences. They promote child-led activities with nature and give children the opportunity to explore the natural world for themselves.

Yvonne continued:

“We have had children who have initially been frightened of the bees, but after lots of reassurance and nurturing, and helping the children to stay calm, they have grown in confidence.”

Yvonne has kept bees for the last 16 years, but her love of bees stretches back to childhood. She said:

“My grandparents lived on a farm and I used to play in the fields, picking up stones and looking for insects, and this led to my love of bees. As soon as I had the time and money, I started beekeeping.”

David and Jane Richards said:

“We are delighted to welcome Yvonne Kilvington to our foundation. It is obvious to any visitor that Ashbrow School is an inspirational learning environment and Yvonne’s considerable expertise and experience in this field will be invaluable to our cause. It was immediately clear to us that she shares two of our passions: bees and kids. It’s a perfect match.”

About the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation

David Richards, the founder and chief executive of public software company WANdisco plc, set up with wife Jane to educate, empower and improve the lives of children.

The foundation is registered as a charitable incorporated organisation to operate throughout England. Its trustees are Professor Chris Brady, director of the Centre for Sports Business at the University of Salford, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, and Herb Kim, founder and CEO of Thinking Digital.

Its aims are the advancement of computing and ecology education in state schools and the advancement of environmental protection and improvement.

The foundation is also supporting the installation and running of beehives at a number of state schools in the Sheffield area. David and Jane Richards have donated shares in WANdisco to fund its work.